Summer heat is here, Department of Health offers tips

summerThe New Mexico Department of Health advises residents to take extra precautions to avoid heat-related illnesses such as heat exhaustion and heat stroke. The Department is also reminding New Mexicans to never leave their children or pets inside an unattended vehicle.

Anyone regardless of age, sex, or health status may develop heat-related illness if engaged in intense outdoor physical activity or even just by being exposed to the hot weather without access to shade or air conditioning. Residents at highest risk of heat related illnesses are the elderly, the very young, and people with existing chronic diseases such as heart disease.

Department of Health Cabinet Secretary Lynn Gallagher says, “The most serious forms of heatrelated disease, if untreated, can kill a person or cause permanent damage to their nervous system.”

People suffer heat-related illness when their bodies are unable to compensate and properly cool themselves. The body normally cools itself by sweating, but that’s not enough when the heat gets too much or your exposure lasts too long. Your best defense against heat related illness is prevention. Here are some tips:

• Stay cool indoors; do not rely on a fan as your primary cooling device
• Drink more water than usual
• Avoid alcohol or liquids containing high amounts of sugar
• Replace salt and minerals
• Wear lightweight, light-colored clothing
• Schedule outdoor activities carefully
• Pace yourself
• Monitor people at high risk
• Never leave children or pets in cars

More information on heat-related illness can be found on the New Mexico Environmental Public Health Tracking page at